Charlotte, NC


Bill Abbate

We have much to pay attention to in today’s busy world, and while we notice some of what is happening, a great deal passes unnoticed. Our brains limited bandwidth is responsible for this.

But what about the more important things we can miss? Those things that slip by that could be helpful? Allowing some of these to go unnoticed can harm our chances of living a happy, fulfilled life.

What are these important things, and is there a solution to this dilemma? There is! Let’s discuss.

What are we missing?

Life is full of contradictions. You have more information available today than anyone could have dreamed of through the end of the twentieth century! Yet the world’s greatest philosophers knew more about themselves, life, and the workings of humanity than we do today, even though they died hundreds or thousands of years ago.

Could it be because they had the good fortune of not being distracted by the sheer volume of information and technology available today? Could this have allowed them to see far more clearly? It appears to be the case.

Think about it. The average person today may know many things, but far too many of us lack good old common sense regarding ourselves and the world around us. I published a book titled Uncommon Sense for this very reason.

Why we need to recenter

If we would only slow down, stop at times, and recenter ourselves, we could discover what we are missing.

I let far too many things go unnoticed for years and paid the price. Don’t be like I was, so busy working you can’t stop once in a while to smell the roses! Before you know it, you’re retired and can never regain what you lost and the regret it created. Had I only been more thoughtful about staying in touch with my inner self and being a little more disciplined in paying attention to what I was doing.

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is, discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” Jim Rohn

You don’t want to finish life with much regret because you let too many things go unnoticed, do you? That is no way to live! Fortunately, you do not have to live that way!

You can take control now and avoid a life filled with regret when you are older.

Have you ever been paying attention to one thing while completely missing something else? Everyone has had this experience. It is a common problem in today’s world. All you need do is go to YouTube and watch funny and not-so-funny videos of people walking into poles and signs, stumbling into traffic, and tripping over things. They are so absorbed in looking at their phones they are blind to the world around them!

Similarly, I’m sure you know what it’s like to be conversing with someone on their phone or computer, checking email, or who knows what. There is no way they are giving you their undivided attention. It can be frustrating as well as downright rude! They may as well say aloud they do not value you and that you are simply not worth as much as whatever it is they are doing. Ouch!

Four steps to recentering

Everyone develops habitual behaviors and becomes blind to their surroundings. These behaviors will hold you captive until you recognize them and their triggers. Once you see one and understand what is behind it, you can change it and recenter your attention. You do this by noticing the behavior, paying attention to it, and naming it. Then you can modify or eliminate the behavior to better serve you.

Why not start where you are today and stop your future losses? Choose to recenter your life on what is important to begin living a more purposeful, fuller, happier life.

Are you ready to recenter yourself? Take this seriously, and you will be amazed at how it helps you and those you love!

Step 1 — notice

Step one in this process is to notice. Ask yourself the question:

  • “What do I notice about _______________ and the results it is creating in my life?”

You can fill in the blank with anything from your work or marriage to an out-of-control behavior. The choice is yours.

Whatever you choose, pick something important to you. Something that leads to a behavior you may regret if you don’t work on it. When I first came across this technique, I chose to look at my marriage.

It woke me up to how little attention I was giving Charlotte. When we first met, my entire life was about her. Yet, less than 20 years into our marriage, it shifted to being all about my work with the typical excuse of wanting to be a good provider. I’m sure some of you have done this — putting an important relationship on the back burner to pursue your career, hobby, passion, or whatever.

Step 2 — attention

The second step is to pay attention to what you are or are not doing and ask yourself, “What triggers it?” The trigger was my sense of conscientiousness and the need to do my job well. I allowed too many phone calls and work projects to invade my home life. At least, that was my excuse at the time.

I left little time to sit and talk with my wife, the most important person in my life. All she wanted was some time to have a discussion and to be together. That is not too much to ask, is it? Fortunately, I came to my senses a few years before she died, but the lost years are gone forever.

Step 3 — name it

The third step in recentering is to name a behavior that keeps you off-center. In my case, for my marriage, I came up with more than one!

“Neglect” was first, as I had ignored my wife far too often. Another was “disrespect” because I put other things like work before her. And lastly, I named “lying.” I lied to myself, saying I only wanted to be a good provider and work hard for her and our family. There was far more to it than that.

Each of those names stung severely. How could a man behave in such a way toward the person he cared about most and for whom he would die if needed? It was unconscionable!

Step 4 — recenter

Once you have noticed it, paid attention to it, and named it, it’s time to work on yourself. You can either modify the behavior or stop it altogether. Which you choose depends on the situation.

In my situation, it resulted in a significant shift in behavior. Charlotte passed away at only 51 from cancer some years later. One of my main regrets is that I didn’t start this work earlier.

However, the good thing was that it helped me become more disciplined to change how I was and my terrible behaviors. It helped to recenter my life significantly at the time, and I avoided a ton of regret that would have otherwise resulted in our last few years together.

What will you do?

Now it’s your turn. Listed below are a few things to get you started. Working on any or all of these can help recenter you into a more purposeful life while lowering the potential for regret one day.

Ask yourself, “What do I notice about _______________ and the results it is creating in my life?”

Fill in the blank with one of the following items or behaviors:

  • My marriage
  • How much attention I pay to my spouse
  • My important relationships (children, family, friends, colleagues)
  • My faith
  • My attitude about __________
  • How much stress I carry
  • My job/career
  • Where I live
  • How I treat others
  • My finances
  • My savings for retirement
  • My health
  • My attitude at work, home, and elsewhere
  • The way I act around my wife, kids, friends, etc.
  • The way I act when asked to do something
  • How I react when hearing bad news

Feel free to add anything you wish to the above list. The important thing is that it leads to one or more behaviors.

By asking yourself the above question and filling in the blank, you can get to the heart of who you are and who you are becoming. This understanding will take you far in recentering yourself around what is important to living a good life.

Final thoughts

Use this simple, four-step process not only to recenter your life but also to create more significance. Working on even one small area can do wonders while saving a ton of potential regret.

Why not give it a shot? When you accomplish your first change and recentering, the others will become easier, and who doesn’t like easy?

If you have one takeaway from this process of recentering your life, think about how much less regret you will carry into your later years. Regret is a heavy burden, and this realization alone will make it worth the effort!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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